While it might be obvious to anyone around me, I’ve just now come to the conclusion that my favorite subgenre is the slasher. This is reflective of the type of movies I’ve been excited for when they’re released in theaters. Perfect examples from the last couple of years are Hell Fest and Happy Death Day, with my childhood being framed with Black Christmas and Psycho (yes, the originals). They can be fun, psychological, hilarious, depressing, or even a great way to spend your Friday night. Psycho taught me a lot about how to fool the audience and create a sympathetic villain who has helped spawn sequels and even a 5 season television series that was way better any one expected it to be. Around the time I was 10 was when I began spending my time venturing through video store aisles, picking out VHS after VHS simply based on cover art and simple yet catchy titles. APRIL FOOL’S DAY was one of those movies.
The original cover art is reminiscent of the Fear Street novels that famed horror writer R.L. Stine would put out. The teens look painted and barbie doll-esque, but often on the run or splattered in blood with one of them wielding a knife. It was simple, but effective enough for me to convince my religious parents to shell out a couple bucks for me to watch it alone as no one else had interest.
APRIL FOOL’S DAY revolves around Muffy (Deborah Foreman), a college-age rich girl who invites her friends over to her isolated mansion for one particular spring weekend. These are those type of 80s movie hotties that love to play pranks on each other, sometimes quite elaborate jokes. Along with the pranks are champagne and first-class looking meals. Muffy is probably the most reserved of the bunch and it’s obvious from the beginning that there’s more to her than what anyone can see. The irony is that she doesn’t seem to fit in at all with this group to begin with. As expected, the bodies start piling up, but the joke’s on us as the killings happen off-screen as the bodies sometimes float on by, literally.
While you might find this on a slasher list, APRIL FOOL’S DAY actually doesn’t feature any slashing. It plays more like a suspense mystery with quite the twist that might make or break the movie for you. I couldn’t recall if I had seen this movie when I was younger until the third act and especially the last shot. It was something I took literally as a kid and wanted a sequel to follow and was something I refused to spoil for newcomers. Now, as a supposed adult, I realize it was merely a wink to the audience.
Scream Factory has unleashed a new high definition release with some killer artwork that’s iconic enough to warrant a purchase even if you’re not a fan of the movie. Director Fred Walton gets an extensive two-part interview here with a look at his career as well as behind the scenes stories of the film. Genre fans will most likely be familiar with his earlier When a Stranger Calls, another cult classic. Actress Deborah Goodrich, who plays Nikki, talks about her career, especially the soap opera life which seems like a nightmare. Her experience with APRIL FOOL’S DAY is discussed as well as an alternate ending that’s not featured but was shot and I presumed lost. There are also interviews with actor Clayton Rohner (Chaz), composer Charles Bernstein, and director of photography Charles Minksy. As noted, there’s plenty of behind the scenes stories to dig into from both sides of the camera for fans to indulge.